August Pullman is a 10-year-old boy who likes Star Wars and Xbox, ordinary except for his jarring facial anomalies. He shares his story in Wonder, a children’s book written for all ages. August pulls classmates, parents, and teachers into a dialogue about kindness and wonder. Six million people have read this book and it will be released as a film in November 2017. Are we just hungry for a sprinkle of wonder and kindness or is there something deeper going on in our communities and workplaces?
It is summer and that time of year when people tend to shift their routines to take a break. It’s a time when traditions appear on the calendar: a BBQ with friends, a trip to the beach, a family reunion or even a vacation. The question is how do we ensure these traditions are also times of recharging and refueling. How are you doing at recharging your batteries this summer?
In talking to people about their summer plans, it seems one of the biggest challenge is how to truly step away from work. In some ways, our technology allows us to step away because we can flex our schedules. However, if we are stepping away and still staying connected throughout our time off are we really recharging? If we are feeling obligated to check email and texts on vacation, are we truly unwinding and refueling?
Much has been written about the importance of taking time away from work and focusing on family, friends, hobbies, and rest. Digital Detox is easy in concept but unless organizations put policies in place to support times for recharge, it’s difficult to unplug. People fear falling behind at work or coming back to work with 100’s of unanswered emails. What is your workplace doing to support you in taking time away from work? What structures would help you to fully disengage from work and focus on your summer refueling? What can you do to take ownership of your digital detox?
Some organizations now make it a requirement that employees not check their emails. In fact, there are some that even pay you a bonus if you don’t check email. Others, inform email senders that an employee is on vacation and that the sender’s email will not be received. The sender is invited to resend the email after the end of the employee’s vacation. Creating organizational structures and policies for people to recharge results in a more energetic work force.
Call it “Unplugging”. Digital Detox. Sabbath Manifesto. Optimize Brain Function whatever but the research is telling us if we turn off FOMO(Fear of Missing Out) and work through the digital withdrawal that we really can recover and recharge.
What can you do to ensure that your summer tradition becomes a recharge time? You deserve it.
In a recent conversation, a small group of us were talking about caring for elderly parents. We discussed the tension that exists between supporting parental independence and increasing health challenges. One friend said, “I just remind myself to stay on my yoga mat.” I laughed and then realized the brilliance of the statement.
In meditation and yoga, it’s easy to have your mind wander as you settle into a class. One yoga instructor likened it to being a puppy…jumping from one place to the other. Or better said, “having a hard time staying on your yoga mat!” In addition, a goal of a yoga class is to focus on what you can do on your mat and not worry about what others are doing.
In our conversation about aging parents we agreed, that it’s easy to jump in and rescue, sometimes when it’s not even needed or wanted. Yep, jump right off that yoga mat.
Where else do we jump off our yoga mat?
In the 1970’s Robert Greenleaf wrote “visions, both good and bad, can be contagious.” When was the last time you set a vision for yourself? your team? your organization? The exercise of casting a vision is a critical step in building the future you want. Casting smaller scale, mini-visions can build momentum even faster and become even more contagious. Mini-visions build the future you want.
Let’s explore the concept of a mini-vision.
I recently walked across the Golden Gate Bridge with two friends of mine that have set a courageous mini- vision for their careers. This mini- vision is not at all their final career goal. Yet, they are stepping boldly into an opportunity and seeing where this mini-vision will take them. Walking behind them, I found myself getting swept up by the symbolic nature of the bridge and their mini-vision. As they walked across the span of the bridge with their backpacks, I admired their courage, sense of adventure, and ability to step out into an unknown future. Their mini-vision was and will be a contagious vision for all who cross their path.
In another example, a colleague of mine recently stepped down from her position so she could spend the summer with her family. Her mini- vision was clear. She knew that the years with her teenage kids at home was rapidly coming to a close. She could see college and summer jobs on the horizon. She cast a mini- vision of spending more time with family for summer 2017 and it quickly became contagious. Her husband and kids have all embraced the vision of adventures, fun and relaxing together this summer.
Vulnerability is a word loaded with baggage. It is a word that often connotes weakness, confusion, even “being stuck”. Yet, if we look at vulnerability with more curiosity we can see that it potentially is one of those great pivot point words. If we pivot away from the judging of vulnerability, we can actually shift towards connection, collaboration and opportunity.
Try this on. Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you feel a little vulnerable admitting the mistake? We all make mistakes, yet, in the workplace, we are often cautious to discuss our errors. We are not intentionally trying to make mistakes, we are just human! We can often feel vulnerable when we make mistakes and fear being judged or dismissed. Yet, as Amy Rees Anderson from Forbes wrote “good employees make mistakes, great leaders allow them to”. [Read more…]
When you arrive at a meeting do you feel synergy or silos? Do you notice that people are working together and recognizing that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? Or do you experience silos, territories, and guarded boundaries of “that’s not our responsibility”. Robert Greenleaf reminds us of the challenge of silo versus synergy in his reflection on serving…”how can institutions become more serving? I see no other way than that the people who inhabit it serve it better and work together toward synergy—the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.”
You may have experienced organizations that work in silos. Many books, articles and trainings are offered to help break down silos. Unfortunately, management structures, policies, and team dynamics often result in separation of teams into silos. Building synergistic teams takes practice, intention and a belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. [Read more…]
Do you remember the first time you were assigned to be a supervisor or manager? How steep was your learning curve? What was harder for you…managing your team or managing your boss? Did you come to the leadership role naturally? Or, was it a struggle to feel like it was a fit and you secretly longed for you “old job” where things were easier? Over the years, I’ve heard managers pronounce after learning a new skill…”I wish I knew that when I first became a manager!”
As a manager, what do you wish you had known and learned first of all? Do you wish you had known more about people or tasks? More often than not I hear people wishing they had more skills in building their team, delegating responsibilities, managing meetings, and navigating challenging conversations. Many managers learn management skills by trial and error. Others learn by watching their own managers. Some read about management.
How did you learn to be a supervisor or manager? [Read more…]
May 10, 2017 was 50/50 Day. Around the world, people gathered to watch a 20 minute film by Tiffani Schlain. Viewers then participated in conversations using a well-crafted discussion guide. The guide encouraged groups to discuss equity, power and the arc of women’s history. It ends with an invitation to “pull the next one up”; an invitation to overcome challenges together. [Read more…]
Over 250,000 people walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain last year. Walkers from all over the world came to experience this sacred trek.Their range of motivations included exercise, culture, religion, nature, and adventure. Throughout human history various cultural and religious groups have conducted pilgrimages. Now, pilgrimages attract walkers who just want time and space for reflection.What would it be like if you integrated a pilgrimage into your professional development plan this year? Consider a local pilgrimage as a way to integrate more reflection into your personal and professional growth.
SET INTENTIONS: A pilgrimage should be more than a good long walk for exercise in an exotic place.The idea is to set intentions with a focus on reflection more than fitness. Some walks will have spiritual underpinnings, many will include themes of disconnecting from technology, creating space for transformative thinking, connecting with nature and realigning with more meaningful work with colleagues.
In sacred pilgrimages, walkers set their intentions around healing, penance, thanksgiving, worship or enlightenment. In a reflective growth pilgrimage, you set your intentions based on what is most pressing for you at this time in your life. Pilgrimage themes include peace, justice, gratitude, hope, transformation, leadership and service. Walking with fellow pilgrims interested in one of these topics will allow you to have space for reflection and shared insights.
PLAN THE TREK: Planning the route of your pilgrimage needs to be intentional. It does not need to be an expensive international trip. It just needs to be a place that inspires and energizes you. Consider a route that inspires and challenges you both mentally and physically. What natural or built environments could lend metaphorical meaning to the trek?
I am helping a small group plan a local pilgrimage with intentions that focus on hope and gratitude. One of my wiser colleagues said during our planning stages…”gratitude is the engine that drives hope”.
We will begin our trek on a quiet beach in a cove that is protected by giant shade trees. Our first intention is to think about a time when we were in a dark place and found our way into a more hopeful path. We will walk in silence to begin this reflection. We will then share our experiences with a partner as we climb up out of the cove to the top of the sunlit ridge above.
From there the walk will move into other themes of hope and gratitude. Our plan is to walk across a local bridge as a metaphor for the transition into hope. We will finish at a cliff overlooking the ocean. At this spot a group of people have slowly been building a labyrinth one stone at a time. We will end there with our reflections on gratitude and contribute our stones to the pathways of the labyrinth.
DISTANCE: Pilgrimages can be any distance. Ours will be 12-15 miles as we wanted to experience the different shades of light: morning, mid day and late day light. Pick a distance that will support your goals. Take your time. Walk slowly and appreciate each sight, sound, and smell you encounter. Breathe deeply and keep returning your thoughts to the intentions you set for the journey. Stay open-minded and be willing for the unexpected to occur. Don’t try to force inspiration to come. Just relax and allow it to emerge within you.
Start Thinking and Planning:
What would you like to focus on during your pilgrimage?
Who will be your fellow walkers?
Where would you like to walk?
Look at your calendar, when will you walk?
Every team is a mix of Pioneers, Drivers, Integrators and Guardians according to a recent article in Harvard Business Review. Authors Johnson-Vickberg and Christfort, write that every team is a mix of these four personality types. Their article in the New Science of Teamwork issue makes the case for “pulling your opposites closer” by encouraging unlikely pairs to work together.
This work is grounded by the research of Helen Fisher. Her research on the “brain systems that that drives human personality, attraction and love” is now a cornerstone of this new team science. Her work helped shape Match.com and now is the foundation of a tool used by Deloitte. The tool gives managers a common language for understanding how people work. The theory is that by understanding the unique personalities of workers that leaders can better manage their staff resulting in higher performing teams. [Read more…]